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Artur Hnida: Panthers Wrocław stand out from other clubs [INTERVIEW]

1 month ago | 27.04.2023, 16:39
Artur Hnida: Panthers Wrocław stand out from other clubs [INTERVIEW]
The latest Panthers Wrocław transfer does not concern any player, but it can still be called groundbreaking. The team was joined by a true legend of the Wrocław sports scene - Artur Hnida. Once a basketball player of Śląsk Wrocław, with whom he won the Polish championship twice in the early 1990s, and for 28 years an excellent physiotherapist - first in Śląsk, where he enjoyed the greatest successes in the golden era of the club, then in Gwardia and Volley Wrocław, and from this season in the colors of Panthers Wrocław.

Artur Hnida became the head of the team of physiotherapists at Panthers Wrocław. At the Olympic Stadium - i.e. at the team's headquarters - he will run a club physiotherapy office open to all players. According to the Panthers authorities, this is a huge step forward for the entire organization. What convinced Hnida to change club colors? What will his work in the Wrocław organization consist of? And how much of a challenge is "switching" from volleyball and basketball to American football and other disciplines that are played by the Panthers?

What convinced you to join Panthers Wrocław?

Artur Hnida: First of all, the vision. Initially, the proposal of Panthers Wrocław was very surprising to me, because at that moment I was not looking for changes. After several years in Volley, however, I felt fulfilled and subconsciously I knew that I needed new challenges. The desire for a slight change was just beginning to sprout in me at that time, so the Panthers proposal came at a very good moment. I have to admit that at first I was a bit skeptical about changing colors - I had been associated with indoor sports all my career, and suddenly I would be dealing with an unusual discipline for me - American football. So I approached it with a slight smile, but when I met the president Michał Latos and we started talking, he managed to arouse a lot of interest in me. I decided that I would like to be part of this organization. I liked his vision very much and the conversations were specific. For me personally, this is a huge change.

What impression does the organization of Panthers Wrocław make on you? How is it different from Śląsk, Gwardia or Volley?

I'm lucky that I've always worked in leading clubs and they were all from Wrocław. Professional organizations are run similarly, the difference is that Panthers Wrocław is an American sports club with a huge number of players. Everything on site, however, functions as efficiently as in basketball or volleyball. The organization makes a very positive impression and is distinguished by great energy and lots of enthusiasm. Decisions are made here quickly and they are implemented quickly. This energy is contagious and stands out from other clubs and is consistent with my approach.

What will your work with the team look like?

I will be present at every Panthers game - both home and away. It's my job to look after the football players. For one man, this work will certainly be too much, so physiotherapists from GO ON Clinic will help me. Personally, if I go into something, I do it with full commitment, I do not accept half-measures. However, I wish that I’ll be "unemployed", because that will mean that the team is healthy. It is important to me that the coaches always have as many healthy players as possible at their disposal, because this is where the strength of each team lies. In the event of an injury, I will try to get the players back to full strength as soon as possible. I feel responsible for all my charges, so I will always be available to them. For this purpose, a fully equipped club office was created at the Olympic Stadium, which will serve the players of all sections.

Throughout your career you have been associated with basketball and volleyball. At Panthers Wrocław, you will work primarily with American football players. Is it a big difference from the perspective of a physiotherapist?

Certainly - these are other injuries. Each sport has its specifics, including the specifics of injury. In American football there is a lot of physical contact, which is absent in volleyball, for example. On the field, 22 strong guys are constantly colliding with each other - literally anything can happen here. I will also learn this sport myself. However, I know that I can always count on valuable comments from the coaching staff. The specificity of sport is certainly different than in my previous clubs, but as a physiotherapist with almost 30 years of experience, I will do everything to meet it.

Will it be the same with ultimate frisbee, softball and lacrosse?

Yes, although in my private office I have already worked with ultimate players. I have treated hundreds of patients with different injuries, so I do not lack experience with various injuries. As a club, we will try to provide the players of all sections with the most professional medical care.

In previous clubs, you worked with a dozen or several dozen people. The entire Panthers Wrocław organization consists of almost 350 players. How will you deal with such a scale?

Prevention is certainly key. I will also cooperate with specialists from the GO ON Clinic, which will make my work much easier, because one physiotherapist is physically unable to handle so many players. They are also specialists with great knowledge and experience, with whom I am in constant contact. We use the technical possibilities of GO ON - serious and long-term treatment will take place in their clinic. However, the front line is always a physiotherapist who is at training or in the office - this is how it is in every club. He decides whether he will act alone or needs support. We will work in this way and for this reason a physiotherapist who is constantly with the team is such a valuable person. He can make a decision right away.

Have you been following the Panthers so far?

I was just following the results. I am very involved in what I do, which is why I am a very busy person and I have little time for other activities. In the near future, however, I want to get to know the whole organization and the sport better. After all, from now on, I will be present at every game.

You were part of Śląsk basketball in its golden era. Does the competition in the European league remind you of WKS's former performances in the Euroleague?

Of course. If you play in the national league and you go to the same city, the same arena, the same hotel, and even the same room for the umpteenth time - it's commonplace. Playing in European cups has always been the icing on the cake for the whole competition and the proverbial "change of wallpaper". It's something quite different, completely different emotions. And indeed, working with basketball players, we have achieved a lot in these competitions. These were long trips, often even flights. In volleyball, there was also a period of performances in the Champions League. It has always been an additional challenge, a new impetus to action. When I found out that Panthers Wrocław is a team that basically plays only in the European League of Football, my desire to become associated with this club only intensified. This is the coolest thing - we have a lot of imported players, the cream of the best Polish players and a team at a very high level. Being a member of such a club is a challenge that I want to meet. I am very happy that we will play on the international arena and we will represent Poland there. I believe that with success - I dream of adding a ring for winning the European American football league to my collection of medals. I hope that next season we will reach the final and fight for the championship.

Which sporting successes do you remember best? What would you like to achieve with Panthers Wrocław?

The first medal always tastes best. I mean the unexpected title of Polish champion, which we won with Śląsk in the ‘95/’96 season - no one counted on us, and we won. It was the golden decade of Śląsk and the period of almost all the Polish championships itself. In volleyball, I had the honor of winning the silver medal, which is the greatest success in the history of the Wrocław team. I also remember the surprise victory at the Universiade in 2007. Although I am a modest man, I do not hide that now I hope to achieve great success together with the football players of Panthers Wrocław.